A toddler’s portraits and bullet holes: an Inquirer photographer’s poignant picture

Every Monday, we present a gallery of recent pictures taken by our staff photojournalists — and tell you the story behind one of them. This week staff photographer Tyger Williams talks about the scene at the home of 2-year-old Nikolette Rivera.

Bullet holes in the glass can be seen in the window along with memorial photos of Nikolette at her home October 22, 2019. 2-year-old Nikolette Rivera was shot and killed by gunmen apparently targeting her father over a drug dispute.
TYGER WILLIAMS / Staff Photographer
Bullet holes in the glass can be seen in the window along with memorial photos of Nikolette at her home October 22, 2019. 2-year-old Nikolette Rivera was shot and killed by gunmen apparently targeting her father over a drug dispute.

“Seeing the picture helped me get a sense of how old she was,” Inquirer staff photographer Tyger Williams said of the memorial photos of Nikolette hung between the front windows.

Countless candles covered the ground in front of the house, and colorful balloons lined the railing as Williams and columnist Mike Newall talked to neighbors at the Kensington home where 2-year-old Nikolette Rivera was shot and killed by gunmen apparently targeting her father over a drug dispute.

>>SEE MORE: A Vigil for Nkkolette

As a neighbor relit some of the candles, Williams asked if he could come up to photograph her on the porch. It wasn’t until he stepped closer that he saw two holes in the glass so small he didn’t notice them at first. One could have been from the bullet that killed Nikolette.

“It kind of threw me off guard,” Williams said.

He wanted to show the physical impact of gun violence while still capturing the human toll, so he photographed the damaged glass up close — crime scene markers still there — with an image of Nikolette in the background.

“A bullet hole by itself doesn’t really say much, not a lot of context in the image,” he explained. “I wanted to be able to add her in the background to show what happened and who was shot that day.”

>>SEE MORE: Last week’s staff photo gallery and the staff photography page

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